Amazing camera in a small package

Started Dec 26, 2013 | User reviews thread
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Tonkotsu Ramen
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Amazing camera in a small package
Dec 26, 2013

Initially, I was going to wait until this camera hit the low 600 price point, but then my friend damaged my Canon S90 by dropping it down a flight of stairs, so I took the opportunity to buy a new camera.

My "go-to" choices were the Canon S120 and the Sony RX100II. After playing with them both side by side at a camera shop, I decided that the Sony was superior, despite the significantly higher price.

Pros:

  1. Image Quality - Until sony or canon make an APS-C version of their p&s's that's actually pocketable, this is camera produces incredibly good images. It's so good that I found myself second guessing (and refusing shipment of) a sony DSLR(DSLT) i had previously ordered and waiting for their next generation.
  2. Low light ability - This camera is amazing in low light. I find that results up to ISO 3200 are useable, and even 6400 is useable when viewing on a smartphone. In it's various modes, the camera tends to pick ISO 800 or 1600. The difference between this camera and the S90 are light night and day. Pictures that were a noisy mess on the S90 would become perfectly acceptable on the RX100ii.
  3. Wifi Transfer / Remote shooting - I find this feature extremely useful for self portraits and sending pictures to my smartphone on the go. I would not have considered this camera otherwise, especially in 2013, as connectivity is becoming king.
  4. Focusing / Shot-to-Shot speed - One of the main reasons I bought this camera (and why I wanted to upgrade from the canon) is shot to shot speed. Sony has always been on top in this regard, while canon stubbornly refuses to address this issue. I had an EOS-M for awhile, and it didn't matter what shooting mode or whether review was on. the shot to shot time was always 2-3 seconds, same with my S90. So you combine slow focusing with slow shot to shot time.. well for me it turns into a horrible experience. This sony has none of those issues. Fast auto focus and fast turnaround time.
    I had the chance to compare this sony with a Canon S120 side by side, and the canon, even with its improved AF, was a much slower camera overall. Despite reports saying that the S120's focus speed was improved, i found the sony faster since it's shot to shot speed was 2-3x faster. For every 2 shots i could take with the S120, I could get 4-6 shots with the RX100ii
  5. Battery life - With all these features and nice LCD, i expected to need to have a few batteries around all the time. Well.. so far it isn't an issue. I'm getting 1.5-2x the number of pictures that I'm able to get with the S90 and EOS-M.
  6. Size - Of course you can't talk about this camera without mentioning it's size. It's pocketable, which is great, but it's a much larger camera than the canon s series cameras. It may not seem like it at first, but if you have them side by side, this camera is nearly double the value and 50% heavier. The LCD, control knob, and lens ring also make it feel much larger. Regardless, i keep this inside a lowepro rezo, geneva 30, and any of my light sweater / jacket pockets. To me, this isn't as easily pocketable as the S90, and it doesn't fit comfortably in my jeans like the S90 did. It's still significantly easier to pocket and handle than the NEX-3N and EOS-M sized cameras.
  7. Bounce flash - It helps in more situations that i thought, extremely useful.

Cons - Of course, there's no perfect camera, and even this camera has some faults.

  1. Up close / Macro focusing - The minimum focusing distance of this camera is further than my canon S90, which is a bit disappointing. this requires me to shoot from further and crop. But why make the camera so small yet require it's users to need to back away ? This isn't a huge issue as I can just crop.
  2. Lens softness at F1.8 up close - I'm not sure if it's an issue with my copy, but when shooting at F1.8 within inches of the subject (2-4 inches) everything is very soft, almost like there's a haze over the images. This may be due to the larger sensor and optics of the sony. I had expected it to work just like my S90 (which has very good up close abilities), but again, I need to back up or use a higher F number to get sharp up close images.
  3. LCD movement - The tilting LCD is really great for difficult shots. I just wish that it had an additional hinge (ala Sony A77) for self portraits. It is also a lot more rigid than I expected, and sometimes it scrapes the body if I extend it the wrong way.
  4. Lack of touchscreen LCD  - In the year 2013, you'd expect 100% of cameras to have a touch screen with touch focus or touch shutter.... well this camera doesn't have it. It would make some shots much easier. Lets hope it's in the next iteration of this camera, or a future p&s. It's also interesting because sony has an entire line of android smartphones.. yet refuses to put a touchscreeen on any of it's high end cameras.
  5. Buggy app w/ lack of features - Ever since the Xperia Z1 and the QX "lens cameras" came out, I expected sony to significantly update their playmemories app. It didn't really happen. The app works well enough for now, but sony should expect their competition to leapfrog them if they become stagnant again. The app itself crashes every other time I use it, and crashes 100% of the time when i'm trying to "select pictures on smartphone" before i'm able to finish selecting and transfer files over.
  6. Panorama - I know some have gotten great results with this feature, but I'm not one of them. I keep getting "jaggies" in the pictures. I try to hold the camera level and pan slowly, but it's still an issue. My smartphone does a better job, other than exposure.
  7. Lack of Battery Percentage Indicator - My A57 had it.. Your smartphones have it.. Why can't this $750 camera have it as well? Or am I missing it in a menu somewhere?
  8. Lack of ISO in M - Fortunately for me, my Canon S90 did not have this feature, So i'm not missing it. However, I can see how it can be useful, and it's strange for sony to include it in some cameras and exclude it from others (like the previous complain) I still this it's quite silly that there were people returning this camera because of the lack of this feature.
  9. Slow shutter speed in Auto / Lack of adjustable minimum shutter speed - this is a slightly more serious problem than the previous complain, but I don't find it to be an issue. Still, other manufacturers are able to work around this problem by letting users adjust it, or simply having the camera pick faster shutter speeds by default.
  10. Slow processing of HDR / multi shot noise reduction / bright background pictures - While this camera is usually fast, using any of these modes absolutely kills the speed of this camera. I expect better from a company as large as sony.
  11. Lack of way to lock the flash when bouncing - Keeping my finger on the flash isn't ideal for a lot of shots

Wants for future iterations of this camera

-Tilt and swivel LCD - they can make 2 models, one "small" with a fixed LCD, and one "pro" with an articulating LCD.. both touch screen. Similar to the canon S and G models.

-User adjustable menus - Want Auto ISO in M? enable it through a menu. Want to adjust minimum shutter speed? enable it through a menu. I don't see a reason that sony keeps it's cameras so bare when it comes to things like this.

-Touchscreen LCD

-Smaller and cheaper attachable viewfinder

-More ergonomic body

-Larger buttons

-better feeling shutter button

-wider lens

-better close up performance

Addressing common complains - There have been a number of threads complaining about the slow shutter speed and the lack of auto ISO in M. Fortunately for me they are non issues, as my Canon S90 works exactly the same way, and I only occasionally have blurry pictures. I find the shutter speed perfectly acceptable in the auto modes. What I think is that the people complaining about the lack of features simply thought the camera was too expensive, and was waiting for any small problem to complain about and return the camera. Neither of these issues were a problem for me with the S90, and they aren't a problem now.

Overall -

This camera is a great investment for me, and was the perfect upgrade for the S90. I'll be very happy with it until sony makes a pocketable APS-C p&s.

Tonkotsu Ramen's score
4.5
Average community score
4.2
bad for good for
Kids / pets
great
Action / sports
good
Landscapes / scenery
excellent
Portraits
excellent
Low light (without flash)
excellent
Flash photography (social)
great
Studio / still life
excellent
= community average
Canon PowerShot S120 Canon PowerShot S90 Sony RX100 II
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